Sunday, April 10, 2005

NIOSH - The Continuing Saga

Last week's post "NIOSH By the Numbers" prompted several emails from NIOSH staff and former staff to further enlighten us on their dire situation. A couple of examples:

Example #1 - NIOSH staff are given a $1,000 training budget for each staff person, placed in a separate account (a personal account?). Yet no money is allocated for travel so in effect the money cannot be used, except for local meetings or perhaps on-line classes.

Example #2 - One branch of NIOSH (document development) has lost 6 senior staff in the past year, but only 1 of the positions can be filled permanently. The rest are to be filled with 2-3 year "fellows," temporary assignments. The "increases" NIOSH has gotten in their budget will not help reduce the workload as positions can't be filled or are eaten up by salary increases.

Further evidence of the need for lobbying Congress to increase the budget going directly to NIOSH and investigate the diversions of NIOSH's budget to CDC for "business support services." Meanwhile the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) and the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) have weighed in and asked for the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study the possibility of moving NIOSH to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or the Department Of Labor (DOL). Moving it to DOL would probably further politicize the agency. NIH may be a poor fit, as its research mission tends more toward the basic research, while NIOSH is more geared toward the applied.

Keep posted for further developments and keep those cards and letters coming.